Lance Lynn has been among the best first-half pitchers in the majors since cracking the St. Louis Cardinals’ rotation in 2011, reaching double-figure win totals before the All-Star break all three seasons.
The Los Angeles Dodgers saw a pitcher determined to finish strong, too.
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Lynn won his third straight start Friday night, leading the Cardinals to a 3-2 victory.
”I’m not worried about the rest of the season,” Lynn said. ”I’m just worried about my next start – whenever that may be.”
Lynn is 33-15 with a 3.54 ERA before the All-Star break and 12-9 with a 3.91 ERA after the break. He’s been among the pitchers getting the most run support, too.
Manager Mike Matheny repeated his assertion that Lynn (11-6) is ”one of the most underrated pitchers in the game.”
”Despite what anybody else thinks, he’s got a lot of wins and there’s a reason,” Matheny said. ”It’s because he’s got great stuff.”
Matt Holliday homered and doubled with three RBIs in support of Lynn.
Kolten Wong had two hits and scored on both of Holliday’s RBI hits for the Cardinals against the team they beat in the NLCS last fall. They have won six of eight and remain a game behind the Brewers for the NL Central lead.
”Really, I just kept my approach simple and tried to hit the ball hard back through the middle of the field,” Holliday said. ”I don’t get ahead of myself. I’ve learned playing this long to take this thing day to day.”
A.J. Ellis had an RBI double for the Dodgers, battling the Giants for the NL West lead. They remained offensively challenged coming out of the All-Star break, totaling 10 runs the past six games.
Holliday’s seventh homer, estimated at 435 feet to straightaway center, came off Dan Haren (8-7).
Lynn gave up two runs on four hits in six-plus innings. He struck out nine and worked around four walks, which tied his season high.
Lynn has 44 wins the past three seasons, one behind Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright for most in the league. He bounced back from season worsts of two innings and six earned runs at Los Angeles on June 28 before leaving with a blister.
”I thought he used his breaking ball more. I don’t think he used his curveball in L.A. hardly at all,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. ”It looked like it took us a while to get going.”
Haren piled up 99 pitches in 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on eight hits, and is among the National League leaders with 20 homers allowed. He’s totaled 8 2/3 innings his past two starts and has lost his last three outings overall.
”I made a bad pitch to Holliday,” Haren said. ”I actually didn’t make that many mistakes. It seemed like everything they hit in the air was falling, and there was nothing I could do.”
The Dodgers left the bases loaded in the third when Matt Kemp struck out. The Cardinals stranded three in the fourth when Lynn bounced out after an intentional walk to Tony Cruz.
Consecutive doubles by Juan Uribe and Ellis leading off the seventh chased Lynn. Ellis scored on a wild pitch to cut the deficit to one.
The Dodgers stranded two against Pat Neshek in the eighth and Trevor Rosenthal had two strikeouts in a perfect ninth for his 29th save in 33 chances.
NOTES: The pairing for Saturday is Zack Greinke (11-5, 2.73), coming off his second All-Star nod, against Joe Kelly (1-1, 3.44), making his second start coming off the DL from a hamstring injury. Greinke has won his past four starts against the Cardinals and is 9-3 with a 2.93 ERA for his career against them. … Mattingly didn’t mind Kemp saying he was open to a trade if he didn’t get regular playing time in a published report during the break. ”The headline catches your eye and you read it and you go, `It’s not that big of a deal,”’ Mattingly said. Mattingly also didn’t mind that Kemp wanted to play center field, saying ”That’s fine, he can view himself however he wants. I’m playing him in left.” … Holliday reached 1,000 career RBIs last month. … The Cardinals have won their first home game after the All-Star break seven straight seasons.